by Yomi Kazeem
Dear Keshi, thanks for disappointing me. Mr President, over to you.
I get paid to talk football. It is one of the things I do for a living. Sometimes, while on air, I have to make on-the-spot calls and analysis on issues which I had not previously given much thought. Other times, I give well-formed opinions based on hours of thinking. Talking about the Nations Cup was one of those issues I had thought long and hard about. My final conclusion: We were not going to win.
Allow me to paint a picture:
Three weeks ago, when coach Stephen Keshi picked out a 23 man list containing 17 debutants and six home based players, it was almost cast in stone that our trip to South Africa for the African Cup of Nations was going to be an uneventful vacation.
High-profile players were left out of the squad which resulted in public uproar and from the top – at the executive level – nervous glances were exchanged. Coach Stephen Keshi’s project of blooding home-based players into the national set-up was on full throttle. He stuck to his guns, promised some success and three weeks later, Big Boss, as he is fondly called, has won us the African Cup of Nations.
It is a rosy picture right? Why would I be disappointed that we won?
You see, I don’t like being wrong – especially when thousands of people are listening to my voice on radio. In that regard I’m disappointed. On the flipside, my country has won the Nations Cup, which has eluded us for 18 years and I am delighted.
So in a nutshell: I am disappointed and it feels great. Coach Keshi, someone who I was hugely skeptical about, has left me with a large dose of humble pie and I’m more than happy to swallow it. It feels great to be a Nigerian.
Now, it is my hope that within the next two years another man disappoints. Officially, his name is Mr. President but unofficially he’s a shoeless fella from the south-south who, according to some, is divinely ordained to fix this country. So far, not so good but the good news is that there is still a bit of time.
All I want from Mr President is a sign. A sign that things have or will change. He can start by actually getting his sleeves dirty and tackling the bane of Nigeria’s economy and polity since independence: corruption.
In my opinion, the biggest statement any president of this country can make will be to get hard on corruption. No, I don’t mean lip service or selective crucifixion of political enemies. Maybe it is a naïve thing to do given the complex nature of politics in this parts but then again, hoping that Keshi would win the Nations Cup would have been naïve at the start, wouldn’t it?
Corruption cannot and will not be eradicated under the term of one president and even if one does an excellent job with anti-corruption, the next guy – not necessarily shoeless – may very well ruin all that hardwork. Still, the best he can do is try.
I like the idea of constant electricity, good roads, an efficient police force, quality healthcare and free basic education but as far as my eyes can see and my brain can process, corruption stands in the way of all that.
I do not expect a lot from Mr President neither did I expect much from Keshi. Keshi has proven me wrong, here’s hoping Mr President dramatically changes tactics, does some real work on fighting corruption and disappoints me too. Fingers crossed.